Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein-making machinery in bacteria successfully re-engineered

Date:
August 25, 2011
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Researchers have successfully re-engineered the protein-making machinery in bacteria, a technical tour de force that promises to revolutionize the study and treatment of a variety of diseases.

Artist's rendering of E. coli bacteria.
Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

Yale University researchers have successfully re-engineered the protein-making machinery in bacteria, a technical tour de force that promises to revolutionize the study and treatment of a variety of diseases.

"Essentially, we have expanded the genetic code of E. coli, which allows us synthesize special forms of proteins that can mimic natural or disease states," said Jesse Rinehart of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and co-corresponding author of the research published in the Aug. 26 issue of the journal Science.

Since the structure of DNA was revealed in the 1950s, scientists have been working hard to understand the nature of the genetic code. Decades of research and recent advances in the field of synthetic biology have given researchers the tools to modify the natural genetic code within organisms and even rewrite the universal recipe for life.

"What we have done is taken synthetic biology and turned it around to give us real biology that has been synthesized," Rinehart explained.

The Yale team -- under the direction of Dieter Söll, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, professor of chemistry and corresponding author of the paper -- developed a new way to influence the behavior of proteins, which carry out almost all of life's functions. Instead of creating something new in nature, the researchers essentially induced phosphorylation, a fundamental process that occurs in all forms of life and can dramatically change a protein's function. The rules for protein phosphorylation are not directly coded in the DNA but instead occur after the protein is made. The Yale researchers fundamentally rewrote these rules by expanding the E. coli genetic code to include phosphoserine, and for the first time directed protein phosphorylation via DNA.

This new technology now enables the production of human proteins with their naturally occurring phosphorylation sites, a state crucial to understanding disease processes. Previously, scientists lacked the ability to study proteins in their phosphorylated or active state. This has hindered research in diseases such as cancer, which is marked by damagingly high levels of protein activation.

"What we are doing is playing with biological switches -- turning proteins on or off -- which will give us a completely new way to study disease states and hopefully guide the discovery of new drugs," Rinehart said.

"We had to give some very ancient proteins a few modern upgrades," Söll said.

Söll and Rinehart now are attempting to create proteins in states known to be linked to cancer, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Both men, however, stressed the technique can be done for any type of protein.

"Dr. Söll and his colleagues have provided researchers with a powerful new tool to use in uncovering how cells regulate a broad range of processes, including cell division, differentiation and metabolism," said Michael Bender, who oversees protein synthesis grants at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

Other authors from Yale are lead authors Hee-Sung Park and Michael J. Hohn, Takuya Umehara and L-Tao Guo. They collaborated with Edith M. Osborne, Jack Benner, and Christopher J. Noren from New England Biolabs.

The work was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health via the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hee-Sung Park, Michael J. Hohn, Takuya Umehara, Li-Tao Guo, Edith M. Osborne, Jack Benner, Christopher J. Noren, Jesse Rinehart, Dieter Söll. Expanding the Genetic Code of Escherichia coli with Phosphoserine. Science, 2011; 333 (6046): 1151-1154 DOI: 10.1126/science.1207203

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Protein-making machinery in bacteria successfully re-engineered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825141630.htm>.
Yale University. (2011, August 25). Protein-making machinery in bacteria successfully re-engineered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825141630.htm
Yale University. "Protein-making machinery in bacteria successfully re-engineered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825141630.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins